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NY/Philly-style Water Ice?

Been in Boston 15 yrs, but I'm a Philly guy. I make my own soft pretzels and cheesesteaks and roast pork, etc. to satisfy those cravings, but has anyone found a local place for good WATER ICE? I'm not talking "slushies," I'm talking real NY/Philly-style Italian ice.

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  1. Unfortunately, no. And it doesn't travel well either. For those of you who have not experienced "water-ice" (or thought all ice was made of water), it is essentially a granita that is served in paper cups with extra artificial food coloring. Nothing like frozen fruit juice (or chocolate) on a hot day, and the startling color of the tongue for hours later just makes people jealous.

    5 Replies
    1. re: tdaaa

      Is this not the same, essentially, as a sno-cone? We used to get these on the streets of Chicago when I was growing up, but haven't seen it here.

      1. re: litchick

        Snow cones are shaved ice with flavor poured on top. Water ice is water and flavoring frozen together, but not allowed to solidify into a block - kept granular with a small amount of residual liquid.

        1. re: tdaaa

          Ah, this makes sense. Thanks for the clarification.
          (Wierd name though, right?)

          1. re: litchick

            Yeah - kind of redundant. As mentioned below, generally served with a long handled spoon-straw implement - can spoon up chunks and keep up with the melting liquid in the bottom.

          2. re: tdaaa

            There's another difference between a snow cone and water ice. A snow cone is flavored with syrup, but high-quality water ice has small, diced cherries, pineapple, or other fruit blended into the ice.

            The best water ice I ever had was Diane's Italian Water Ice in Voorhees, NJ on Evesham Road. I usually get the vanilla chip, with real chocolate chips and vanilla bean, or the cherry flavor, with juicy diced cherries.

            I would give up all the ice cream and gelati in the world for their water ice -- a New Jersey summer in a cup.

      2. There are places that do non-shaved Italian Ice, but not certain enough its the right variety. Polcari's in the North End has a machine running outside the shop during the summer, where you serve yourself (from a pre-made barrel) and pay inside. Richie's on Rt 16 in Everett (better right at the takeout window where they have lots of flavors) is called slush around here, but it is frozen in a machine. Other places I think resell (spadafora's in Malden). A bit more upscale Cafe Paradiso used to do granitas, but I think they stopped that several years ago.

        1. The only place I've had it in Boston was (of all places) on the room service menu at Brigham & Women's Hospital. I'd presume they are sourcing it locally, but I have no clue from where.

          1. There is a guy in Jamaica Plain who shaves ice off a block and adds the syrup. I've seen him on Center st., but I understand he has a regular spot somewhere. The Speed's of ice.

            1. I used to live in Philly so know exactly what you're talking about. Polcari's in the North End is the closest in consistency to water ice but they only sell lemon. Richie's slush is everywhere but if you go to the place on Rte. 16 in Everett, you'll get the best flavor selection and consistency. They serve it with the same straws as you get in Philly.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Velda Mae

                "...only sell lemon" isn't necessarily a minus, just old school. Purists like my old man would argue the only two flavors are lemon and cherry.